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Colorado Native Grasses and Lawns

by Gabby Hyman, All About Lawns Columnist

While bluegrass and fescue continue to be among the favorite lawn types for many Colorado homeowners, some residents find the upkeep routine more than reasonable, given unpredictable dry seasons and wide-ranging temperatures. If you're looking for a strong, adaptable native grass for your lawn that requires relatively low maintenance and watering, Buffalo grass may be the answer.

Buffalo grass is native to the North American Great Plains and has been a pasture and range grass for centuries, although it first appeared in the 1930s on golf courses where irrigation was limited. It's a warm-season grass that grows strong from June to late August. While it requires considerably less water than other grasses, Buffalo grass goes dormant in the fall, making it a poor choice among Coloradans who want a green lawn through most seasons. (Ignore this if you get a lot of snowfall.) Buffalo grass is also a poor choice if you have a lawn that gets heavy activity and footfall in the summer.
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Establishing a Buffalo Grass  Lawn

If you're seeding Buffalo grass, start in late spring. Expect up to 21 growing days before emergence. Avoid using a pre-emergent herbicide, but do apply a nitrogen fertilizer a few weeks after your seedlings appear. If you want to use plugs, lay them in after the last spring freeze and wait four weeks before applying a nitrogen fertilizer. Use pre-emergent herbicides with caution.

Sodding may be more expensive, but you'll get a fully functional Buffalo grass lawn right away. Don’t panic if it goes brown for the first two weeks while the roots take hold, and water it religiously until it's established.

Of course, you're planting this variety because it thrives on considerably less water once the lawn is in, up to 75 percent less of the watering that's required for bluegrass and fescue. But Buffalo grass does need up to two inches of water every 3-4 weeks or it will go dormant and brown up on you.

About the Author
Gabby Hyman has created online strategies and written content for Fortune 500 companies including eToys, GoTo.com, Siebel Systems, Microsoft Encarta, Avaya, and Nissan UK.

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